This morning check out of your hotel in Jerusalem and drive North with your expert guide, viewing the following places before checking into your hotel in the North.
Your guide will take you to an incredibly beautiful site – Zippori, described by Josephus as “the ornament of the Galilee”. Zippori was the Galilee’s major centre of commerce from the time of the reign of Herod, through the birth of Jesus, and it is probable that Jesus would have worked in Zippori as a craftsman. In Jewish terms, Zippori is hugely important as the place where the Mishna was redacted by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi in 220 CE, and modern Judaism was therefore given shape. Evidence of the city’s former glory and sophistication is today seen in the stunning mosaic floors which remain. Of major interest are the ‘Mona Lisa of the Galilee’ (pictured below), the Nile Mosaic, and the floor of the 6th century synagogue. Zippori’s remains also include a Crusader fortress and Roman theatre which once seated 4500 people. In Christian heritage the site has significance as the town of origin of the Virgin Mary and her parents.
Next for a one hour tour of Kibbutz Degania Beth. The tour will provide you with real insight into the history and present day reality of kibbutz life. You will learn about the theoretical foundations for the kibbutz, both socialist and Zionist, about the important role which the kibbutzim played in the history and defence of the young state of Israel and about the current day challenges they face. You will also visit the kibbutz archive which is found in the home of Eshkol Levi, the former prime minister of Israel. The archives contain fascinating material relating to the early days of the pioneer movement generally and Degania Beth specifically.
Lastly, you will tour the Sea of Galilee area. Ancient Jewish communities thrived around the Sea of Galilee, as testified by several remains of early synagogues, examples including those at Capernaum, (and also Chorazin, and Hammat Tiberias which are viewed on longer tours). It was amongst these communities that Jesus chose to live and preach, and the area is therefore also replete with important Christian sites. Your expert guide will lead you to key sites including the Mount of the Beatitudes (where tradition holds that Jesus delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount); Capernaum, interesting for both the early octagonal church built around the house of Peter, and for the later and ornate 5th century synagogue; and the “Jesus Boat”, a boat dating back to the time of Jesus, found and now exhibited at Kibbutz Ginosar. We love the boat for the air of mystery which hangs over it –together with your guide you will be able to discuss who the men (or women?) were who sailed the boat 2000 years ago. Was it a fishing boat used by disciples of Jesus? Or a military boat used by Jewish resisters against the Romans? Thinking about who owned the boat, and what it was used for, helps us to consider the various different communities living around the Sea of Galilee at this crucial time in history.